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NEWS | Feb. 28, 2024

U.S. Naval Forces Africa hosts Nigerian Navy delegation for staff talks

By U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa Public Affairs

Adm. Stuart Munsch, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF), and NAVAF staff members welcomed their Nigerian counterparts, including Rear Adm. Zakariyyah Muhammad, the Nigerian Navy’s Chief of Training and Operations, for staff talks onboard Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy, Feb. 27-28, 2024.

During staff talks, the Nigerian and U.S. delegations discussed capacity building, maritime domain awareness, and bilateral maritime integration, among other focused topics. They also presented corresponding briefs on command priorities and capabilities, outlooks for 2024, and opportunities for future collaboration.

Adm. Munsch and Rear Adm. Muhammad delivered opening remarks to kick off the event, Feb. 27. The leaders discussed recent operations and activities conducted by the Nigerian and U.S. navies, Nigeria’s enduring participation in the NAVAF-facilitated exercise Obangame Express, and collaborative efforts to combat illicit activity and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and West Africa.

"Africa encompasses several global maritime crossroads, and the Nigerian Navy plays a critical role in providing maritime security and countering illicit activity not only in the Gulf of Guinea, but across the continent,” said Munsch. “Having our Nigerian counterparts here in Naples to discuss maritime initiatives and areas for enhanced collaboration has been an invaluable experience, and I am very grateful to our partners for their participation in these talks.”

The Nigerian Navy is a longtime participant and frequent host of Obangame Express, an exercise designed to counter sea-based illicit activity by improving regional cooperation, information-sharing practices, and maritime interdiction expertise of participating nations. Additionally, the U.S. and Nigerian navies routinely participate in bilateral and multilateral engagements to strengthen interpersonal bonds and address shared challenges and opportunities.

USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4), U.S. Coast Guard Cutters USCGC Spencer (WMEC 905) and USCGC Mohawk (WMEC 913), and USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) all conducted port visits to Lagos, Nigeria in recent years, and Lagos served as the primary hub for Obangame Express 2023, demonstrating the close ties between Nigeria and the United States.

“The U.S. Navy and Nigerian Navy have a long history of strong relations, built on a foundation of shared approaches and collaboration through many engagement opportunities,” said Muhammad. “We thank NAVAF for hosting these staff talks and we look forward to continuing to strengthen our cooperation and partnership in maritime efforts.”

The U.S. Navy shares a common interest with African partner nations in ensuring security, safety, and freedom of navigation on the waters surrounding the continent, because these waters are critical for Africa's prosperity and access to global markets.

For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.